Biden-Harris Administration takes action to cut PFAS from U.S. Government custodial contracts

WASHINGTON – Today, April 8, 2024, in a move aimed at better protecting the health of custodial staff, federal employees, and the environment, the Biden-Harris Administration is directing government contractors to purchase cleaning products for federal buildings that are free of toxic “forever chemicals.” This change is the result of a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to implement President Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan, which directs federal agencies to prioritize the purchase of sustainable products and services including products without added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” The change is reflected in GSA’s custodial specification. Contractors will be required to use products certified to ecolabels such as EPA’s Safer Choice which meet strict criteria for human health and the environment by using effective, safer chemical alternatives, as well as certain Green Seal® certifications.

“Everyone deserves protection from the harmful effects of forever chemicals, including the workers who use cleaning products, federal employees, and those who visit government buildings every day,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA has well recognized and established tools to help our partners in the federal government identify cleaning products that use safer ingredients and do not contain intentionally added PFAS to keep people safe and healthy.”

As the largest single buyer of goods and services in the world, the federal government can play a big role in helping reduce PFAS through its purchasing,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “Changing the requirements in our contracts is a way to answer President Biden’s call for the federal government to lead by example in buying sustainable products and services.”

Currently, GSA’s Public Building Service has more than 600 contracts for custodial services at more than 1,500 U.S. government-owned buildings at a cost of more than $400 million per year and expects that most of these contracts will include the new specifications within five years. The updated specification requires that contractors use cleaners and hand soaps that are certified to the EPA Safer Choice, Green Seal® GS-37, Green Seal® GS-41, or Green Seal® GS-53 certifications, which do not allow intentionally added PFAS in product formulations. This is in addition to meeting federal statutory requirements, including the minimum biobased content requirement set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program.

To assist federal buyers, program managers and vendors working with federal agencies, EPA and GSA collaborated on several steps to make it easier to identify and buy products, such as cleaning products, that do not contain PFAS, including:

  • GSA’s SFTool (Sustainable Facilities Tool) Product Search has a “PFAS Addressed” filter to browse for products certified to ecolabels and standards that are required for use in federal purchasing.
  • GSA’s Advantage shopping and ordering website is now enhanced to make it easier to find products that are Safer Choice-certified.
  • EPA’s Safer Choice Program is offering a webinar on April 9, 2024, from 2-3 p.m. ET, on how updates to federal purchasing and GSA Advantage provide further incentives for businesses to acquire and maintain Safer Choice certification for their products, as well as how product manufacturers can feature their product benefits in GSA Advantage. Product manufacturers and purchasers are encouraged to attend.

Register for the webinar.

Learn more about GSA’s National Custodial Specifications.

Learn more about EPA’s Safer Choice program.

Learn more about EPA’s recommended standards and ecolabels and how they address PFAS.

About GSA: GSA provides centralized procurement and shared services for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of nearly 370 million rentable square feet, overseeing approximately $100 billion in annual contracts, and delivering technology services that serve millions of people across dozens of federal agencies. GSA’s mission is to deliver the best customer experience and value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the government and the American people. For more information, visit and follow @USGSA.